Sunday, October 07, 2007

Decorator cornstalks, notebooks and poems

Decorator cornstalks
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
These cornstalks looked quite sweet waiting for Halloween here in the barn. They seemed immune to concerns about what a silly idea, really, decoator cornstalks are, things being what they are.
It looks like Molly, the white mule, is dying. The vet will come on Tuesday, if she lasts that long. It's quite sad. She was pretty old when she came to live at my daughter's place. But we don't really think our pets, or our friends, will really die. Or ourselves, although that is about as clear as anything can be.
I have fallen in love with blank notebooks all over again. The ones I like are hand-stitched, lie flat when opened and have lovely creamy paper. And gorgeous cover designs. Once you can force yourself to write the first few words on their limitless clean possibilites, and maybe have glued in a feather, or something weird from the newspaper--like the list of the Michigan businesses that will now be taxed as part of the new budget compromise: baby-shoe bronzing, phrenology, balloonograms, and many other minor enterprises you never thought of as enterprising, but as bids for certain failure of an interesting kind--you can move into different colored pens and/or WRITE IN ALL CAPS. Always travel with a glue stick in case something irrestible turns up in the gutter. Best not to think of which rubbish heap these filled pages might end up in when you are no longer here to protect them. Once, I bought a notebook from the 1920's in a used bookshop; I still treasure it. In it a man who made his living going around to collect insurance premiums had recorded his Chicago days. Just the facts: what he had for lunch and its cost, how much time he got to spend in the library reading after he had made his rounds, whether it was a day for a cigar, and how much that cigar cost. If he found a nickel, dime or penny, he recorded that as Found Money. I know who he was because of a penny postcard addressed to him that was in the book. I wish I could show it to his grandchild, if he had one.

I found a friend's old poetry blog last night; It was too much to read on the screen, so I printed it out and read all 41 pages of it. She's no longer posting, but it made me remember that I have always planned to put more poems here. I have been somewhat restrained because there is so much fussing about copyrights now and my own poems always need improvement, or maybe I can get them published . . .(not unless I send some out)!
But here are some recent finds that reminded me of old favorites and altogether made me very happy. although I cannot say that they are happy poems.


We returned in the evening to where we’d been cutting
reaching the bay in a small boat.

With the seaweed lifting, softening
in the incoming tide, we began to gather it.

The salt water was lukewarm. We hauled
a whole bundle of seaweed together,

tying it tight with our rope. It wasn’t big,
but thick and dense, enough to grow our potatoes in.

We set off with the bale fastened to a thwart;
—it stayed put, didn’t catch or tear.

By the time we reached home it was cold,
like a red wound healing in the west,

and a pale moon floating gently up,
petticoats of cloud at her feet.

That was another night, once, in a different year.
The tide was full then, and at peace.

Ian MacDonald, translated from the Gaelic by Kathleen Jamie

Which reminded me of one of my absolute all-time favorites,
you can see why.


We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago.Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

Czeslaw Milosz in the English translation from Bells in Winter

And here is the one by Jamie that a reader put on Amazon
that helped me decide to order her book.)


It wasn't sand martins
hunting insects in the updraught,
or the sudden scent of bog myrtle

that made me pause, lean
across the parapet,
but a handful of purple baubles

reflected below the water's surface
as comfortable and motionless
as a family in their living room

watching TV. What was it,
I'd have asked, to exist
so bright and fateless

while time coursed
through our every atom
over its bed of stones - ?

But darkness was weighing
the flowers and birds' backs,
and already my friends had moved on.

Kathleen Jamie

Good night. Poetry must be good for something if it can make me feel like these poems do.

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